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December 12, 2012 - No Comments!

Pacing Yourself

Right now, you're driving a race car, slowing down to take a really tight corner. Braking around the corner is pivotal to whether you finish the race or not. In that moment, it's important to gather your bearings, plan your next few turns and gradually increase speed. If you don't do that while in the corner you'll leave it on the wrong angle, your speed will be incorrect and you'll be annoyed you slowed down in the first place. At the next corner you'll ignore your instincts, go faster than you should - and most likely crash.

As an entrepreneur, I've often worked a ridiculous amount of hours driven by passion and commitment. Many times I have worked early into the morning, hunched over a dimly lit keyboard with heavy bags under my eyes. Rarely moving from my seat, pizza quickly becomes my go-to source of nutrition and drinking water seems like a distant past time (sound familiar?). As you can imagine, it's easy to get sick.

But this post isn't about the countless measures I, or other entrepreneurs can go to, to avoid the dreaded burnout - we all know what we need to do. It's about mentally (and positively) accepting when we have to slam on the brakes and take that corner. The aftermath if you will. Owning our health failures and giving our bodies the fuel it needs to recover.

When we find ourselves in that position of burnout, we should apply the brakes. In amongst doing what we need to do to get back to full strength, we can take advantage of the speed in which we have to drive around the corner. Working our minds instead of our bodies is a great reason to start gathering our bearings.

Here are some thoughts & tips on pacing:

Taking time to heal correctly is imperative - it's not efficient or logical to only heal halfway to then hit burnout again a week later

Remember that you didn't get to where you are now on hard work and long hours alone

While some ideas appear through diamond-pressure, most come when you least expect it (shower, relaxing, partying with friends)

Stress will slow you down - learn to avoid activating it

Value is not based on action - it's based on perception of action (So if you must impress by action, find efficient ways to do it)

Being healthy in mind and body increases efficiency

Helping others with no monetary gain (feedback, advice, design, coding etc) is a brilliant way to re-energize and/or break state

Taking some time out for yourself allows others in your network to step forward and grow

Embrace personal distractions (your minds way of saying 'something needs to change') and learn how to use them to refuel - It takes much less processing power to embrace

Listen to your body more - if you have a quick thought that you should drink some water, do it instantly (your work will be there when you get back)

When you hit a brick wall, ask/look for help

Network effects are real - if you are sociable/enjoyable to be around you will have more people willing to help during your burnout

If you are 100% effective before burnout, can you safely maximize your 'burnout healing' in the same way?

In that race track corner, I often think about how far I have come and what it has taken to get there. I notice the new people I now converse with, the new businesses I have connected to and the many opportunities that have been presented in front of me. I have the time to take note of the direction we're going with Kickfolio. This is the moment where an objective view of ones progress can bring a moment of clarity, focus and inspiration.

If we spend that time in that corner annoyed at the slow speed, we may miss the chance to digest, reflect and learn from our experiences in the fast lane.

May 4, 2012 - No Comments!

Why We’re Closing Barkles

Today I sent out one of the hardest emails I've ever had to write. In short, Barkles is closing down on June 1st. Here is the email in full:

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Hello,

Today we bring you some unfortunate news and our last email.

We have decided to close down Barkles on the 1st of June.

To some, this may come as a shock, and for that we apologise.

For over 6 months Jay and I (Diesel) have been working behind the scenes on Barkles to build it to where it is. We have gone through many ups and downs and have learnt a huge amount about the way startups operate. In all honesty, there are a few main reasons that we would like to share with you as to why we are shutting up shop. Hopefully, others can learn from our mistakes.

1. What's The Problem?

One of the main rules about starting a new startup is locking down the problem you are solving. Without a strong problem, you will have less people needing/wanting your product which will result in low traction/return rate. In many cases, Barkles was a cool solution looking for a problem - a reason for people to use it if you will. Had we of nailed down our problem before building the solution we probably wouldn't have built Barkles in the first place.

2. Passion

Jay is very passionate about development. I am very passionate about design. Over time however we lost our joint passion for continually building Barkles when we started realising we had built a solution looking for a problem. We still enjoyed watching the debates come in and people using it on occasion - however for us to move forward and get that passion back it would require a big overhaul to the product, with the likely chance we would be pivoting far away from the product it is today. This pivot would have taken us 3-6 months to fully realise and even then we would not be any closer to working on a problem that people want solved.

3. Financially Viable

Building a freemium product is hard to do if you have low traction and have lost passion in the product itself. Often what results is the founders redirect focus onto paying work (hey, we've all got to live!) which pushes the freemium product into the background of their minds. For others in this situation we recommend financially securing a 'runway' (a bunch of cash you live off for a set amount of months) to give yourself that focus and dedication that is needed when building a long term freemium product.

It's Not All Doom And Gloom

This process of creating a startup, getting members on board and iterating the product has been the most incredible experience. Jay and I look at the closing of Barkles as a "succesful failure", a journey we have learnt a lot from. We have enjoyed over 1400 debates, met countless people who inspired us and now know what it's like to run a startup.  We would like to thank our advisors, mentors and other entrepreneurs who have helped up learn and grow througout this journey.

What's Next?

Barkles.com will be closed on the 1st of June.
Jay and I will continue freelancing in the areas of development and design and see where the road takes us. We will still both be actively involved in the Melbourne/Perth startup scene.If you would like to contact Jay (I can attest to his great development skills) you can get in touch: Jay's email and you can contact me via my email.

Thank you for your involvement with Barkles,

Sincerely,

Jay Whiting & Diesel Laws

August 13, 2011 - Comments Off on Pablo Villalba – Founder Of Teambox.com – Inspiring Entrepreneurs Interview

Pablo Villalba – Founder Of Teambox.com – Inspiring Entrepreneurs Interview

In this Inspiring Entrepreneurs Interview I spoke with Pablo Villalba, the founder of Teambox. Moving into CEO position, Pablo now handles Product Design, Marketing, Programming and Sales in his 15-person-strong company.

Diesel Laws: Hi Pablo, I really appreciate being able to talk with you today. For those who aren't familiar with Teambox, can you please shed some light on what it is.

Pablo Villalba: Thanks Diesel, great to chat. Teambox.com is a Project Management Software that allows users to collaborate online. You can create your own projects and share tasks and files with your group in a centralized way.

D: Teambox is a fantastic tool (we use it for Barkles). Where did the idea come from to start building Project Management Software?

P: Well, I felt the need

August 1, 2011 - No Comments!

Open Letter To An Entrepreneur

I like to think that I'm ready to tackle the big challenges of building a startup like funding, marketing, team building and more. But I'm not. I'm happy to fight in the trenches (and change the design every week), but when it comes to running across the battlefield, I'm shit scared.

Hey Diesel, get over it.

I've been reading recently about the entrepreneurs who build successful companies better after failures. In fact, my whole life I have been preparing for big challenges and have changed my mindset to accept failure as a positive form of growth. I actually enjoy the challenge of failure and get excited by change.

But even still, there's that niggling feeling pulling me back into the trenches, telling me to focus on defeating the enemy with long-range tactics.

Hey Diesel, get out of the house.

While I do feel that in many cases building the product is more important than talking about the product, I know now is the time to step up. Now is the time to take to the battlefield, meet other entrepreneurs, build connections with Angels and VC's, inspire others to join our team and get the Barkles name out there.

Hey Diesel, stop waiting for them to come to you.

I know. It's imperative I change my ways and jump into this head on. And it's not like I haven't been pushing for this day to come.

Hey Diesel, just do it.

You're right. I have been striving for this day ever since I knew I wanted to build a business. But-

Hey Diesel, no more excuses.

May 18, 2011 - No Comments!

Are You The Blue Sheep?

The Blue Sheep mingle with the rest, but also lead.

The Blue Sheep is easy to spot amongst the herd.

The Blue Sheep know when to step forward and back when sharing opinions.

We live in a society that is ever-changing and rapidly developing every day. With that amount of speed, it's easy to get caught up in the trends and marketing hype that inspires us to share information, causing us to modify our thoughts and opinions to cover the biggest field. So how do you know if you're being true? Focus on being the Blue Sheep.

The Blue Sheep Run And Graze

You will notice the Blue Sheep by how strong they run with their opinions. These opinions can shake up the flock, and cause tension amongst the ranks, but can often be the 'right thing' for the herd moving forward. With truthful opinions (e.g. Justin Bieber is actually incredible with what he has been able to accomplish - truth) the Blue Sheep can easily alienate themselves from the paddock - and that's a good thing.

An opinion should inspire a discussion and move the team further.

Blue Sheep also know when it's time to pull their heads in and graze with the other White Sheep in the paddock. They realise that it's important to have a balance between having a strong opinion and letting others speak. If the normally unspoken White Sheep step forward and start sharing their opinions - let them.

Discussions are multi-voiced. Shut up and listen.

The Blue Sheep Lead and Never Deceive

Sometimes the White Sheep will believe (or convince) themselves to be the Blue Sheep, offering leadership at a time of need. These confused Sheep are hard to spot at first, but over time when the grass stops growing, their blue dye fades. Pay attention to the Blue Sheep with 'physical' experience in the field vs 'graduates', as the field is where you will end up playing in. This goes for choosing advisors, investors, staff and even friends.

Shouting louder doesn't make you a better choice.

True Blue Sheep will usually be very open and honest about the grass that lay ahead. Optimism is in abundance, but don't mistake that for hyperbole. When the Blue Sheep is leading correctly, the White Sheep will follow with admiration and respect, knowing they can speak up at any time. If you are the Blue Sheep, lead your team well by focusing on strong, honest communication.

Learn from anyone, no matter which patch of grass they graze on.

In essence anyone can be the Blue Sheep, but not all will. Blue Sheep training comes from within and can be modified and reinvented every second of every day. It can take a lifetime to be seen as the Blue Sheep by others, but starting early will set you up stronger for the later years. Are you the Blue Sheep?

May 11, 2011 - 2 comments

The Role Of A Speaker

I have recently attended a few business meetings and events where like-minded entrepreneurs speak about their businesses, achievements and give tips. These events happen frequently, so it's now even easier to be around inspiring people. The trouble is however, that many of the Speakers often forget one of the most important roles of being on the panel.

Offline Connection.

Entrepreneurs from all over have travelled to the event to make offline connections with other inspired people. In essence, it's about being in and around the industry, being inspired and connecting with others in a way that bonds stronger than online (otherwise they would've stayed at home and watched a TED talk). The role of a Speaker is to facilitate this exchange, encourage and help it to develop - especially when the audience is listening intently to the speakers every word.

Instead of this, what I see happening a lot of the time is the ego and 'self-worth' driving the connections. Sure, it's important to talk about your skills and knowledge, but never forget to take it further. This is especially evident at the end of a talk, where the Speakers huddle into the 'cool group' instead of mingling with the crowd that came to see them.

What Should Speakers Be Doing?

Get in and amongst the crowd that came to see you. Speak to everyone who is interested in a discussion - not just the movers and shakers that will grow your own business. Realise that the strongest time to build a network is the honest back and forth discussions that happen before and after the talk.  There may be a few weird moments where fans just want to stand in your presence because you inspired them and left them speechless. But it's at that moment you should be working out what makes them tick, what they're interested in and what they got from the talk. It's only then that you will know how well you did, what you can do better and how well you connected to your audience.

Focus not only on the people who inspire you, but also the people whom you inspire.